Drunkorexia is one of the latest trends in eating disorders. Like orthorexia, drunkorexia is not a medical or psychological diagnosis; you will not find this term in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. So what is drunkorexia? You might have a clue based on its name, but it is the combination of anorexic or bulimic eating disorder behaviors and alcoholic/binge drinking behaviors. The director of outpatient clinical services for the Renfrew Center, a nationally recognized eating disorder treatment facility, Dr. Douglas Bunnell explains: "Binge drinking is almost cool and hip, and losing weight and being thin is a cultural imperative for young women in America. Mixing both is not surprising, and it has reached a tipping point in terms of public awareness."
This kind of eating disorder is commonly seen in female college students, as participation in binge drinking continues to increase among this population. "Research shows that between 20 and 40 percent of women who suffer with bulimia also have a history of alcohol and/or drug problems. In one study, for example, 37.5 percent of bulimic individuals reported excessive alcohol use and 26.8 percent had a history of alcohol abuse or dependence" (Emax Health, Oct 2009). Another study was conducted in 2009 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and looked at the relationship between eating disorders and substance use in 13,000 women. What researchers found was that women who had an eating disorder were more likely to use substances than their counterparts without eating disorders. For more on this study, click here to access this article on Emax Health.com.
It is important to highlight drunkorexia-- according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 72 percent of women who are addicted to alcohol are also engaging in eating disorders. This is a very high number. Considering the health dangers of both alcoholism/binge drinking and eating disorders, the combination is very threatening. Health professionals need to be aware of this condition, as treatment is so essential to avoid the potentially fatal consequences of such behaviors. It is also helpful for people to be informed about drunkorexia, as we all might have family members, loved ones or others that we know who are possibly dealing with it. For more information, follow this LINK to read an article published in the NY Times last year on drunkorexia.